Defenses against Liability for Slip and Fall Injuries

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If someone is hurt in a slip and fall accident on your property, you might be legally responsible for their injuries.  However, there are several circumstances that may limit or eliminate any liability you may have.
First, you can argue that the accident was really the fault of the victim.  Instead of innocently being injured due to a dangerous condition on your property, witnesses or other evidence might show that the victim was acting recklessly or carelessly.  If so, this might completely get you off the hook.  Alternatively, it could reduce the amount you are liable for.  For example, if a court were to determine that the victim was 40% responsible for the injury, then you would only have to pay 60% of the damages awarded to the victim.

Also, the courts are aware that we do not live in a perfect world, and people do bear some responsibility for themselves.  As such, your accountability is based in a large part on how reasonable and responsible you are.  For example, if you own a store and a customer slips on a banana peel that another customer dropped moments earlier, then you will probably not be liable.  However, if that banana peel has been on the floor all day, there is a good chance you will be legally responsible for the resulting injuries.
Finally, you can argue that the injuries were not a direct result of the slip and fall accident.  Also, it is possible that the slip and fall simply aggravated a pre-existing injury.  Bear in mind that it is the victim’s responsibility to prove that the fall caused the injury, and many victims are not able to do so.

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Last Modified: 01-26-2011 04:29 PM PST

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